MOTIONVFX - IT Project Management Training
- Product & Project Management
Tooploox is not only a bespoke software development company. Behind the heavy coding and software engineering, there is a silent yet effective project management machine. Some partners want to build on that experience and make their teams run as effectively
Making processes more efficient and building products more hassle-free was the goal of MotionVFX – and the Tooploox Project Management team was more than happy to help!
MotionVFX is an innovative company that combines programming and artistic skills. The company delivers plugins for professional movie editing software, such as Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve. They develop advanced software tools as 3D tracking, 3D engines, and surface tracking.
Looking past the nature of the product and the target group, the company consists of two main groups – software engineers who code the plugins and artists who work on the effects to be delivered by the plugins. These groups need to cooperate closely, yet the company lacked a complete and comprehensive framework to smooth out their workflows.
MotionVFX had already learned about agile frameworks and considered them an interesting direction. Yet with the pre-existing workflows and established routines of the company, it can be challenging to implement new working routines, especially when done with a “one size fits them all” approach.
“There were some bottlenecks in the processes and some tasks tended to have dependencies blocking the way. The team considered these issues to have been blocking the full potential of their work and, apparently, these problems were caused by the lack of a project framework,” comments Ewelina Wyspiańska-Trojniarz, Tooploox project manager and agile coach. “To unlock the full potential of the team, the key challenge was in changing their approach towards planning and work rhytm, and luckily, MotionVFX were ready and fully open to cooperation and our advice.”
“The key challenge is not about whether to have a daily meeting or not to have it, but about changing their mindset. The employees need to feel empowered and responsible, the employer needs to trust his or her team. It is a huge leap of faith for the company,” comments Filip Cel.
In the first step, we presented available agile and management frameworks to use and to take from when building their own procedures. We focused on describing:
The Scrum Framework
An established form of software development, based on sprints, daily meetings, plannings, goals and time estimations.
An industrial framework used to handle complex processes with multiple independent parties involved.
“We decided that we should take only the parts that fit us best from both frameworks and compose a unique workflow for MotionVFX. Every company is unique and there is no “one size fits them all.” Using the wrong framework would be comparable to wearing ill-fitting shoes – uncomfortable, inefficient and often painful. That’s why it is important to have a guide when implementing a new framework, to ensure the chosen methodology fits and it will not become useless after a week,” adds Filip Cel.
The Tooploox team also delivered useful advice regarding the management of specific tasks and task flow.
“I suggested breaking bigger tasks into smaller chunks and working with these. It is always a relief when a task is completed and there is a bigger sense of accomplishment in delivering three small tasks a day than struggling with some big task for an entire week,” advises Ewelina. “Also, we worked on managing the tasks within the team, sometimes focusing on sharing out a task among multiple team members or assigning a task to multiple people to see it delivered faster.”
The cooperation was focused on taking the best-performing parts of multiple tools and combining them into a tailored system.
“Kanban appeared to be a highly effective approach, allowing for a switch of mindset from “doing work” to focusing on smooth transitions of tasks from the TO DO to the DONE column as quickly as possible. That way, the workflow was actually unjammed,” says Ewelina. Also, she points out that holding more meetings delivered improvements in communication and overall work efficiency.
“We noticed that the introduction of planning based on estimations was a milestone for the MotionVFX team. Instead of saying ‘we will do it’ they more often started to say ‘we will do it no later than…’ and it actually remodelled their overall approach,” adds Ewelina.
The Tooploox project management team not only delivered training on agile methodology but also participated in MotionVFX’s meetings in order to encourage the client team to use the new tools instead of the old ones. Using the agile framework resulted in solving half of the initially listed problems almost immediately.
“Our role was to ask the right questions. We see ourselves as guides rather than lecturers and we wanted the MotionVFX team to answer the questions for themselves,” comments Filip Cel.
With the new working procedures and frameworks, the company has started to rethink and redefine the ways in which it operates.
“The team was really engaged and their will to make a change was unbelievable. It is heartwarming to see that the need and openness to change can be strong enough to fuel actual, positive change,” comments Ewelina.
MotionVFX adopted multiple tools to release the latent energy of the team and distributed the work more transparently and in a flat manner.
“Our goal was to learn from the breadth of experience of the Tooploox team, as they often see much more – on their projects and also in their client teams. Being able to have a cordial, reliable and trustworthy discussion among managers from both companies was the most important aspect, as in smaller companies there isn’t a lot of room to talk among managers with different experiences and backgrounds,” concludes Wojciech Korpal, co-CEO of Motion VFX.